“The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home,” the tweet posted on Thursday said.
Mayhew’s cause of death is unclear.
Accompanying the post was an image of Mayhew and the beloved Wookie character, as well as a longer statement from his family that laid out which “Star Wars” movies the actor appeared in. They included “the original Star Wars trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels, and the New Trilogy.”
“He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the family said, adding that Mayhew served as a consultant for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in order to “teach his successor.”
“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth,” the statement said. “But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.”
The statement went on to highlight how important Mayhew’s fellow cast members and fans were to him. It also highlighted his work with charities and other organizations, as well as the start of the Peter Mayhew Foundation.
“As he grew older he continued to ‘soldier on’ as he put it and was completely in his element around his fans and supporters,” the statement said. “He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved.”
Mayhew leaves behind his wife, Angie and his three children, the statement said.
Following word of Mayhew’s death, “Star Wars” co-star Mark Hamill — who played Luke Skywalker in the films — tweeted his sadness over the passing of his friend.
“He was the gentlest of giants-A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him,” he wrote. “Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken.”
Last summer, Mayhew revealed on Twitter that he’d undergone spinal surgery “to improve my mobility,” which he said had been successful. The operation would prevent him from attending a Comic Con event, he said.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.